In Feb’18 the trust launched a special project: Victor Rehabilitation and gave it a big thrust. Corporate sponsorships were sought and a few organizations & individuals too pitched in help. The ban on plastic bags in Mumbai also came as a blessing. During our interaction with cancer victors we found that quite a few were interested in stitching and were willing to come to the centre twice or thrice a week to learn and work. Bags became made in dozens in a day and found immediate takers. The success of this program encouraged us to open a dedicated Rehabilitation space for these cancer victors & patients.
The inauguration of the new Vasantha Memorial Centre and the adjoining Victors Rehab Centre in the same premises took place on 15th June 2019. The Trust is grateful to Mrs Vasuki Jagadeesan and late Shri Jagadeesan who provided the initial funds and also to Gateway Distriparks Ltd who helped the Rehab Project to take shape.
It is a well lit and ventilated space that houses 12 sewing machines comfortably. In addition, there is usable loft area & ample storage space for the products. It has easy access from railway stations and bus routes.
The wheels now move incessantly at the rehab centre of the trust. As the fingers move deftly to keep pace with the machines and each engrossed to make the best is motivation enough for us to get more and more orders to keep them busy. The pandemic has not deterred these brave hearts and now when there is so much work too they are the ones who would say Dil maange more!
The year saw overwhelming orders from Corporate, & individuals which has greatly encouraged the survivors. Cancer got these women to see the world beyond their homes unfortunately to the hospitals. But now after they are well and also financially independent confidence is writ large on their faces. The train & the bus ride to the centre at times get hectic but they are all there with smiles on their faces and the inclination to work. When there were bulk orders with deadlines they worked on weekends to finish the orders well in advance. The donors were surprised to see the enthusiasm of these victors and that has also been the reason for them to spread the word to others and many more donors have come in.
It operates from Monday to Friday. Cancer victors spend 6 hours / day and compensation is Rs. 300/-. An additional incentive is given according to the number of products they make that day. Few more benefits reach them as the weekly ration of atta & dal for their families and gift hampers at festivals. The visiting donors also boost their morale!
A variety of exquisite & customized bags is our forte but many other products like pouches, sari bags, cushion covers etc. are also made by the cancer survivors at our rehab centre. The rehab has always been a hub for activities. Be it gift bags for occasions like weddings, festivals or bulk order from corporate there has always been a swarm of visitors & donors who come to the rehab centre. These products are on the display at our centre round the year and interested people come and fetch them.
In the pandemic, the need of the hour was masks. With the support of our volunteers and the cancer victors 2600 plus masks were made by these cancer victors and distributed at hospitals & communities. 17600 products have been made in the centre since its inception in June2019. 6000 plus diyas painted by these cancer victors were lit & adorned in homes in Diwali in the last three years. Bulk orders for diyas brought forth the artistic skills of theirs with the excellent colour combinations seen in the diyas and this whole exercise has also been therapeutic for them.
2022 saw Jute bags sell like hot cakes! Bulk orders were received from Corporate and individuals. Several societies provided table spaces for exhibiting our rehab products. Corporate invited us for cancer awareness talks and provided stall space along side. The Trust was given free stall space at various shop fests, durga puja which kept the sales soaring and the cancer victors working swiftly. Looking forward to more activities in the coming year!